Runners are sometimes advised to alter their strike pattern as a means of increasing performance or in response to injury. The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity mechanics of rearfoot strikers (RFS), who were instructed to run with a forefoot strike pattern (CFFS) to those of a preferred forefoot striker (FFS). Three-dimensional mechanics of 9 FFS and 9 CFFS were evaluated. Peak values for most kinematic and kinetic variables and all patterns of movement were not found to be statistically different between CFFS and FFS. Only peak vertical ground reaction force and peak ankle plantarflexion moment were found to be significantly lower (p ≤ .05) in the CFFS group. This suggests that RFS are able to assume a FFS pattern with very little practice that is very similar to that of a preferred FFS. The impact of changing one's strike pattern on injury risk and running performance needs further study.
D.S. Williams III and I.S. McClay are with the Motion Analysis Laboratory. University of Delaware, Newark. DE 19716, McClay is also with the Joyner Sportsmedicine Institute, Harrisburg, PA 17111. K.T. Manal is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716.